The West Bengal government has changed its guidelines allowing families to perform the last rites of Covid-19 victims. Only six members of a deceased person’s family can attend the cremation or the burial. Earlier, the next of kin could only see the body before it was disposed of.
In guidelines dated September 23 the Department of Health said, “The dead body shall be handed over to the immediate next of kin of the deceased at the hospital. Such kins, not exceeding six persons and including the parents or surviving spouse or children, shall take the body straight to the burial ground or crematorium identified by the local authorities and not anywhere else, including the home of the deceased where he or she last resided, after completion of hospital formalities.”
Minister of Urban Development Firhad Hakim on Tuesday said, “The next of kin of the deceased now accompany the municipalities’ dead body van, or they also can arrange that. But they have to go to the burial ground or crematorium that the state administration has identified as Covid cremation place.”
The latest guidelines say, “The vehicle carrying the dead body to designated crematorium or burial place shall be either vehicle of the local authorities or of the agencies approved by local authorities for the purpose. The local authorities shall publish such lists on their website. The relatives of the deceased, not more than the six in number, can accompany the dead body in a separate vehicle(s).”
The next of kin of the deceased will also be provided a detailed funeral guideline that will spell out the different formalities and precautions that have to be followed from the time they receive the body till its disposal. If a body is not claimed for 24 hours, it will be cremated or buried at the expense of the state.
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